Archive for September 1st, 2008

Start of school delayed

| 01/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Following the passing of Hurricane Gustav, the Education Ministry has announced that all government schools in Grand Cayman will open for the commencement of the new academic year on Thursday, 4 September, as opposed to Wednesday, 3 September. On the Sister Islands, schools will not open until Monday, 8 September.

According to a release from the Education Ministry, this short delay in opening schools in Grand Cayman, which is in part necessary because many school buildings are used for shelter space, will ensure that all facilities are cleaned and fully operational.

Many government schools in Grand Cayman have special orientation days for new students, some of which are scheduled to take place before the start of term and the return of the rest of the school’s student population. In Grand Cayman, students and parents starting at a new secondary school should note the following arrangements for the George Hicks Campus and the John Gray High School.

· The George Hicks Campus will hold an Induction Day on Tuesday, 2 September, for all Year 7 students, starting at 8:00 am and finishing at 12:15 pm. All John Gray High School students, including new students, should report on Thursday, 4 September.

Parents and guardians of students beginning a new primary school in Grand Cayman are advised that registration for new students of John A. Cumber Primary will take place tomorrow (Tuesday 2 September) at the school hall between 8:00 am and 12 noon. Parents of students who will be starting any other primary school in Grand Cayman should contact the relevant primary school for any orientation arrangements.

All education professionals in Grand Cayman are advised that Monday, 1 September, and Tuesday, 2 September, will be used as school planning days. All staff should therefore report to their respective schools on these days. There will also be a principals’ meeting at 2:30 pm on Monday, 1 September, at Countryside.

Professional development for education professionals, which was scheduled for last week in Grand Cayman, will now take place on Wednesday, 3 September, at the Westin Hotel. Please note that there will only be one day of professional development in Grand Cayman at this time and that all education professionals will be advised in due course of the re-scheduling of the second planned day of professional development activities in Grand Cayman.

In Cayman Brac, where there was minor damage in some schools, it has been decided to delay the commencement of the new academic year for all government schools until Monday, 8 September. This should ensure that repairs to all facilities will be completed before students start the school year.

This should also facilitate the planned two days of professional development for education professionals in Cayman Brac. Provided flights can be secured, professional development in Cayman Brac will now take place on Thursday and Friday, 4 and 5 September, at the Brac Reef Hotel. As soon as these arrangements can be confirmed, all education professionals will be advised accordingly. In the meantime, all school staff should report to their respective schools.

The schools in Cayman Brac have already completed the orientation for new students earlier in the year, although if parents of students due to join a new school in Cayman Brac are in any way unclear about the arrangements for their child, they are advised to contact the relevant school directly.

It is also anticipated that the Little Cayman Education Service, which currently caters for two students, will re-open on Monday, 8 September, although this is dependent upon the resumption of electricity supply. Parents of Little Cayman students will be advised on its re-opening as soon as more information on the electricity supply is available.

In a release, Education Minister Alden McLaughlin thanked all education professionals at this time for their dedication to duty and for their commitment to an exciting new school year ahead. Commenting on the passing of Hurricane Gustav, he said, “The Cayman Islands has indeed been fortunate. With some minimal delays, the new academic year will commence shortly in all three Cayman Islands. With many school facilities contributing to the provision of shelter space, this is only possible with the dedication and hard work of school staff, for which I thank each and every one of you.

"I would also like to express my gratitude to the Department of Education Services, who went to great lengths to ensure that new education professionals who have recently arrived from overseas were well looked after. It has certainly been a challenging start to their careers here in Cayman, but I trust that their dedication will not be diminished and that they are well set to make a valuable contribution to the development of the education service in these Islands.”






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Three arrested in Gustav

| 01/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS):  As Gustav passed over the Cayman Islands on Friday night, Saturday morning the police made three arrests, two of which were of individuals attempting to take advantage of the storm. One 20-year old man was arrested for Going Equipped to Steal, Driving- Riding without a License and taking a Vehicle Without Owner’s Consent and another 22 year old man in an unrelated incident was also arrested for Going Equipped to Steal and Possession of an Offensive Weapon. One 28-year old man was also arrested for Assault.

The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) stressed however that the majority of the public heeded the advice to stay indoors during the passing of Hurricane Gustav with no major incidents reported. With the Sister Islands taking the brunt of the storm and losing power Commanding Officer of Cayman Brac, Acting Chief Inspector Patrick Beersingh stated that for some residents Hurricane Gustav was the real thing.

“They lost property, but fortunately, no lives or serious injury. For the Emergency Services, we were prepared and Gustav was an opportunity for us to learn and be even more prepared for the next event. The police had 100% cooperation from all,” he said. “On behalf of the RCIPS, I thank all the Emergency Personnel, Hurricane Volunteers and the general public for the excellent spirit of camaraderie and community, which I have now come to expect in the Sister Islands. We are continuing to recover in Little Cayman, and with the efforts underway there, normalcy should be restored soon."

Acting Commissioner David George added that officers from the RCIPS were a credit to the service. “The commitment and professionalism exhibited by the officers of the RCIPS was exceptional, they are a credit to the Service and the people of the Cayman Islands should be rightly proud of their efforts,” he said.

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TV returning after storm

| 01/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): WestStar TV say the company is working as quickly as possible to reconnect customers after the passing of Gustav. On Saturday, engineers assessed WestStar TV’s infrastructure at Television Centre. Fortunately, minimal damage was incurred and teams could begin to focus on individual customers. Customers who are experiencing problems with their cable are asked to contact customer service at 745-5555.

Operations manager, Traci Bradley, says, “Right now reconnects are the priority; new customers will be connected once those are complete. We expect reconnections to take approximately 3 to 4 days however, we are still receiving fault reports.”


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Seas could rise much faster

| 01/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(ENN): The controversial view that sea levels could riseat a rate of more than 1 metre per century has found support from a new study of a long-melted ice sheet. In reconstructing the events at the end of the last ice age, Anders Carlson of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and colleagues found that the Laurentide ice sheet, which covered most of North America between 95,000 and 7000 years ago, rapidly disintegrated. Go to article.

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Atlantic brews up more stormy weather

| 01/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): As Gustav, the seventh storm of the Atlantic Season, headed towards the coast of Louisiana as a category 2 hurricane, Tropical Storm Hanna, the eighth, was soaking the Bahamas on Monday as it continued on a path that could take it up Florida’s Atlantic coast.

And as the Caribbean cleaned up in the wake of Gustav, the Atlantic was brewing more potential storms for the region, with satellite imagery from the National Hurricane Centre in Miami showing several other areas of troublesome weather. At 9:00 EDT the centre was monitoring four other weather systems moving westward from the African coast, including one in the mid-Atlantic that it said has a high probability of intensifying into a tropical storm.

At the beginning of August the Climate Prediction Centre had updated the Atlantic hurricane season outlook saying there was an increased likelihood of an above-normal hurricane season. NOAA said there was an 85% probability of an above-normal season – up from 65% in May. The team were forecasting 14 to 18 named storms, of which seven to 10 areexpected to become hurricanes, including three to six major hurricanes of Category 3 strength or higher on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. These ranges encompass the entire season, which ends November 30, and included the five storms that had formed when they made the prediction.

Forecasters attributed the adjustment to atmospheric and oceanic conditions across the Atlantic Basin that favour storm development – combined with the strong early season activity. In May, the outlook called for 12 to 16 named storms, including six to nine hurricanes and two to five major hurricanes. An average Atlantic hurricane season has 11 named storms, including six hurricanes and two major hurricanes.

“Leading indicators for an above-normal season during 2008 include the continuing multi-decadal signal – atmospheric and oceanic conditions that have spawned increased hurricane activity since 1995 – and the lingering effects of La Niña,” said Gerry Bell, the lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Centre. “Some of these conditions include reduced wind shear, weaker trade winds, an active West African monsoon system, the winds coming off of Africa and warmer-than-average water in the Atlantic Ocean.”

Another indicator favouring an above-normal hurricane season is a very active July, the third most active since 1886. So far there have been eight named storm. Gustav was the third to reach major hurricane status and there are still three full months of hurricane season remaining.

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Successful summer for young sailors

| 01/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CISC): Cayman’s youth sailors finished a busy racing season at the Canadian Olympic Regatta in Kingston, Ontario, from 11 to 20 August. Seven sailors represented Cayman at one of the largest regattas in the world with over 700 sailors.

Stuart Jennings raced in the Olympic Laser Division and finished a very strong 10th place out of 45 in the Silver fleet. Alex Walton, also sailing the Laser, placed 24 in the Silver fleet, a very good result for his first regatta. Hugo McErlean finished a strong 13th out of 43 in the Laser Radial Bronze division. Marina Maffessanti raced in the Byte CII class and finished 13th out of 19. This was also Marina’s first regatta.

At the CORK Optimist regatta, Cayman’s Optimist champion Matthew Courtis sailed to a very good 29th place out of a huge fleet of 98 boats while Camilo Bernal finished 81st. Earlier in the month, brothers Thomas and Niklas Wolfe competed at the World Championships in Sweden for the RS Feva, a two person sailboat. The boys finished 29th out of 54 boats in the Silver fleet.

The Wolfe boys also raced Optimist sailboats in the Texas Youth Race Week in July. Thomas finished 12th out of 22 and Niklas 14th out of 22 in their respective age divisions. Cayman’s youth team started the summer with Stuart Jennings, Jeremy Hill, Joshua Hill, Willie Cruz, and Craig Ebanks taking home the gold medal at the Premiere’s Cup Regatta in Tortola, BVI.

Sailing Director Michael Weber said, “I am happy with the results from this season, our second year racing abroad. Our advanced racers improved and our beginner racers gained a lot of experience. I am looking forward to growing the team and seeing some top 10 finishes in 2009.”

The next major regatta is the Scotiabank National Youth Sailing Championships held at the Cayman Islands Sailing Club on November 1st and 2nd and the Orange Bowl Regatta in Miami from 27 to 30 December .

Anyone interested in joining the youth team is encouraged to contact Mike Weber at

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Special care and assistance

| 01/09/2008 | 0 Comments

Article 25 of the Universal Declaration says, Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. Being a "universal" ideal and not merely a "small dependent territory" one, the declared entitlement is a human right and not merely a civil right.

This Article is particularly relevant to Cayman because probably half of our female residents are migrant workers of childbearing age. Our immigration officers have standing orders to deport newly born babies of foreign mothers, unless the mothers are rich, and most pregnant migrants know this. Nevertheless, some of them take chances. A few months ago a young Jamaican helper left it a bit too late to fly home, and gave birth on the plane.

By accepting female migrants of child-bearing age, our governments too take chances. Domestic helpers have minimal medical insurance, which doesn’t cover the expense of complications. So, should Cayman deport all pregnant migrants in low-paid jobs with minimal insurance? Or should our rulers encourage termination in such cases?

I make no moral judgment here except to point to the Universal Declaration and Cayman’s moral obligation to honour its ideals. We should remind ourselves every so often that it doesn’t matter whether or not we have a constitutional Bill of Rights. The obligation exists, regardless.

Our government hospital provides full medical care for Caymanian mothers, babies and children. It usually bills full rate for its services, although some patients can’t pay and some refuse to pay. Medical insurance is required by law, though only at a basic level. Jars on shop-counters bear witness to the need of mothers of sick children for extra money to pay for airfares and accommodations overseas.

Government policy naturally influences the government hospital’s decisions on where, whether and when to send mothers and their sick children overseas for treatment. But only Caymanians. If we as a community are to give motherhood and childhood special care and assistance, as per the Universal Declaration, we have to do more than just ensure safe births for bloodline Caymanians.

Our government is also obliged to care for battered mothers, without distinction, and to protect them from abuse. Our Social Services Department does an excellent job, but they are somewhat frustrated by the administrators of the work permit system. Foreign mothers are especially vulnerable to threats of deportation.

Unfortunately, those threats are not empty ones. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that some immigration officers and some political appointees take the side of Caymanian fathers over the non-Caymanian mothers of their children. Too often the foreign mothers are deported without their children.

Article 25 goes on to say, All children… shall enjoy the same social protection. The Article leaves it to individual United Nations members’ governments to define "children" and "childhood", but it allows for no distinction among children.

It applies to mad children and bad children, diseased children and mutilated children, children adopted, fostered and illegitimate, children of all ethnicities and national origins and local status. In the Declaration’s ideal every one of them is entitled to the same treatment by the UN member-state it lives in.

Of course Cayman is not a member-state. Britain is responsible for how children and mothers are treated in Cayman. All the same, our local politicians can’t hide behind Britain’s skirts forever. Being a dependent territory doesn’t mean that we can ignore human-rights obligations.

If we as a community insist on recruiting low-paid migrant women of childbearing age, and if we accept the obligation to live up to the Declaration’s ideals, we need to take a whole new look at how our immigration authorities treat those women and their children.

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Cayman back in business

| 01/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): With schools, offices, banks, businesses and shops all back to normal today (Monday 1 September), those returning from overseas could be forgiven for thinking that Gustav passed hundreds of miles from Grand Cayman rather than merely a few dozen. Clean up and utility teams cleared debris and sand from roads and replaced downed light polls throughout the weekend in what appeared to be double-quick time.

By Sunday afternoon Pat Bynoe-Clarke, Corporate communications Manager with CUC, confirmed that power had been restored right across the island. “Crews have been out all weekend replacing the downed poles and lines and we have now restored power island-wide,” she said. “The only customers now without power are those with specific problems at their properties and we are working with them to get their power restored as quickly as possible. Crews have also gone out to Little Cayman to help with the repair and restoration work there as well. We will be doing an overall assessment on Monday and CUC will then issue a full report.”

Grand Cayman received the official all clear at noon on Saturday and the clean up operation begun immediately. Roads were cleared of fallen trees and other debris and the sand was quickly moved back to the beach, allowing smooth passage in a matter of hours. The worst hit areas were the Northern districts. Several poles and lines came down on the Queen’s Highway and in North Side, where sand was also washed on to the road in several areas. On Saturday afternoon staff were busy clearing Castro’s Bar at the Reef Resort of the extra sand that Gustav had brought and putting it back on the beach, but the resort reported there was no damage at all.

There was no evidence across the whole of Grand Cayman of any damage to property other than broken hoardings and one or two torn signs, and once the roads were cleared of debris and the odd felled tree the island was back to business as usual. By 10:00 am on Saturday all the local supermarkets were open, with most local bars and restaurants open for business again on Saturday evening. Macabuca Bar at the Cracked Conch in West Bay was experiencing very high seas but there was no damage to the property itself. Police also had to deal with many curious onlookers in George Town Harbour who came to watch the huge waves that were crashing on to the road.

Although gardeners had plenty to do on Sunday, there was very little for the DIY enthusiast to get to work on. It appeared that residents across Grand Cayman had learned lessons from Hurricane Ivan in September 2004 and had made sure their properties were well secured, avoiding any serious damage.

Meanwhile Gustav roared across the Gulf of Mexico heading for Louisiana and promising widespread destruction as a category 3 or 4 hurricane, which forecaster say is due to intensify. Gustav is also threatening to send oil prices soaring again as it shut down gulf production. Millions have evacuated from the Northern Gulf Coast and the President and Vice President have cancelled their plans to attend the Republican National Convention.

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